Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A View from Daryl Boyer's Window - The Cleansing!

I told you last week that I would be back this week with an interview that went in depth on Daryl Boyer's project, The Cleansing.  God is sending out a trumpet call to His children right now, and I am so thankful to share with you what He has done in Daryl's ministry!  Enjoy your time with Daryl!

Daryl Boyer…..introduce yourself!  How was The Cleansing conceived, and how did it become a reality?

                I am a Worship Director, Youth Pastor, husband, and father to three beautiful daughters.  I am originally from Michigan but now reside with my family in South Jersey.
                I began a journey in June of 2014 that would change not only my life, but really my entire way of thinking about the Lord, reaching out to the people around me, and the content of the songs that I would write and share with others in the months ahead. While I was on vacation in June of 2014, The Lord began to show me that he wanted His church to get a greater understanding of what it means to be made new, to really truly be cleansed and refined in Him. Now at the time I had very little understanding myself what that actually looked like in its fullness. Yes, I had already had a relationship with the Lord, but did I really truly understand what that meant know the fullness of God’s cleansing process over my own life? 
Over the next few months God began to take me to scriptures in my time with Him that started to unwrap His heart for me in new ways. I began to now see all the things Christ wanted me to become through all He did on the cross in a way I had not seen or considered before. I began to now see that I had been made a new creation that was given an authority to walk out the things God declared I could be. I began to see that becoming a new creation and becoming all that God had for me was about yielding and receiving., not about a 12 step striving process. I finally began to understand that as I yield and fully surrender, it was giving God the permission to reveal His heart to me. In this season God began to clean away years of wrong thinking that focused on what I did wrong instead of who He said he had made me to be.  He showed me to focus forward and leave the past behind in the refining fire.
                In March of 2015 after attending a “Power and Love” conference with Todd White and Robby Dawkins, I had been given the full and life changing perspective on exactly what the Lord desired for my life.  I would charge forward in making an album The Cleansing, that would talk about the heart of God  toward us and His refining process, a process that is fully life changing for all when we yield completely to His refining hand and stop striving to clean ourselves up.

Have you always considered yourself a musician? How has God used music to mold your life into His image?

                I was always a very musical child growing up, I started singing at a very young age and playing guitar when I was about 10 years old. As I got older and was playing in various bands I began to see the value in using my talent and gifts for worship and for honoring God. I believe fully that because of my willingness to submit to the Lord in the use of my talents, He is able to shape and mold my music into exactly what His heart desires. I am certain that in that submission, and in that process, my life is equally  transformed more into His image along the journey.

This project seems to be filled with a heart cry for believers to be fully submitted to God’s presence and direction in their life.  The title song of the album – The Cleansing – prayerfully asks; “Lay me down on the altar of your refining fire, to be the one you’ve called me to be.”  What is the story behind this song?

The song The Cleansing is really about understanding exactly who Christ has called us to be as a new creation in Him. The real life and heart change for all of us comes when we drop the idea from our system that says we can somehow clean ourselves up by our daily actions in order to be worthy representatives of Christ in the eyes of the world and of the Father. It is true that we should desire to walk in a way worthy of Christ’s pleasure for us, but we must first be fully dead to ourselves and our ways of doing things in order for that to manifest a change of fruit.  The fruits of what we can offer the world will become what God puts on our branches, as we let Him trim away the dead and useless branches in our lives and place them on the fire. We need Christ to burn away the things of the old man so that the new man is all that is allowed to remain.
Romans 6: 5-6 (mirror translation) says it like this: “(5.)We were like seeds planted together in the same soil, to be co-quickened to life. If we were included in his death we are equally included in his resurrection. (6.) We perceive that our old lifestyle was co-crucified together with him”; this concludes that the vehicle that accommodated sin in us, was scrapped and rendered entirely useless. Our slavery to sin has come to an end.

Amen for that! We have indeed been given the invitation to receive this as truth.  We just have to willingly make the choice to surrender ourselves up to the process of allowing God to truly replace the old man with the new man. It is about an entire lifestyle change that is born as a result of our full submission to the refining and re-birthing process.  The Cleansing is indeed about walking out each day knowing that we live a new life  in Christ Jesus , one that is complete with a whole new identity in Him.

Do you lead worship in your church? 

I am the Worship Director  and enjoy leading worship for my home church on the weeks that I am not ministering on the road. Christ Fellowship Church in Seaville, NJ is currently my home church and foundation where I try to invest all that I can when I am not traveling. I believe it is important that everyone establishes roots and serves in a church somewhere. I enjoy serving  at Christ Fellowship under the leadership of Lead Pastor Andrew Surace.

Has music opened up doors to minister in unique ways?  In what ways?

I believe music has opened up many opportunities for me to minister in unique ways. Truth is, there are always curious people in every concert and in every service that are looking for a real experience with the Lord. Sometimes we can spot these people in the room, or we may even already know them. Either way, we do not always have the right words to say, or the ability to help people receive those words. I have found that time and time again in the midst of my lack for spoken words of comfort, Christ always steps in the midst of the music. It seems that music can always do what normal words from our lofty thinking never can in general conversation. Music often picks up where our human thinking leaves off or looses effectiveness.
I think that people are moved because the music and worship to the Lord is a direct line to our spirit. When our spirit is being moved and positioned toward the Lord, God is always able to move in unique and unexpected ways. The precious and unique move of God often comes on the wave of great worship.

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had with a listener since you’ve released this project?

I think that one of the most memorable experiences for me has been that of a women I had not previously known who was battling cancer. Shortly after her hearing the album I was informed of the impact it had had on her.  It was truly humbling and powerful to hear how God had used my song “Just In Time” (track 10 on the album) to bring about a new level of hope to her in a time she was really needing to experience all of Gods hope, mercy, provision, and love. She was able to draw from the music of the CD to further find faith for her healing from the Lord. It blows my mind, how amazing the Lord is!

Where do you find inspiration to write your music?

I usually find my music inspiration through the things that I am dealing with in my own life, or in the midst of something God is showing me. Sometimes I write a song based on a scripture or prayer revelation the Lord is showing  me in a certain subject or situation. Ultimately, the truth is that outside of the Holy Spirit's direction the songs are just another run of the mill song. The real inspiration and power for the song comes from the Lord. I know for me the biggest part is getting alone with my guitar or on the piano, hitting record, and then just taking my time as I listen to the Lord playing what flows from my spirit. This is probably the method I used to write half of the album “The Cleansing.” I feel that the Holy Spirit moving in us writes the best songs, and then we get to sing them to express God's heart if we are willing. What an honor it is!

What is the most personally meaningful song on this project? Why?

The most meaningful song on this album for me is the Title track “The Cleansing.” From day one of having the album theme and concept picked before the songs were even written, I just knew in this song the Lord was going to deliver something powerful in its completion.  The title track was actually one of the last songs that I completed in the demo process, before taking the full game plan to Nashville for it's completion. I love the way that the song really walks through such a gentle invitation to come  draw close to Christ' love and grace. I also love the way that the song points out God's perfect love as being the core fuel in the refining process over our lives.  It is so important that all God's children understand His desire is to manifest His unconditional love over our lives, in the process of being refined in Him.
What do you hope listeners find in the message of this album? What do you hope they take away from this album?

My biggest prayer for listeners is that they find new freedom, understanding, and truth in Christ. I want God’s children to see that they have an irreplaceable value in Him because they are His. Their value is not established by what they may or may not get perfectly right each day. Christ knew full well who he died for when he went to the cross, and He saw us all as worth the price.  God has declared us all to be identified in Him as a new creation, filled with His goodness and love, and overflowing with His presence. I want for people to get a revelation of who Christ says they are in Him, and He sees them.

My desire is to see God's children free from the mindset that says they are just a hopeless sinner.  Satan wants us fixated on starting our day thinking we are just a sinner. God wants us to start our day remembering that He made us a son and delivered us from sin’s grasp and bondage.  Christ died for us to become sons in His kingdom.  We are here and breathing to represent Christ well, by making the focus be about Him in us, and not about us and our flesh. I want people to understand Christ has made all things new in the hearts of His children, it's about stepping into that understanding, and walking in that truth. Christ in us is the Hope of His perfect Glory!

What would you say to encourage others who feel like God has called them to be worshippers through their music?

I would say to go all in with an unquenchable passion, really seek the Lord in everything you step out in along the way. Leading worship and sharing worship that is designed to move hearts before the father, comes from a life that is submitted fully before the Lord.  It requires a daily place of continued submission. He will bless your offering of submission and take your musical gift and bring forth more then you ever could in your own strength. I would also say that it is important to understand the honor that comes to a Worship Leader in being entrusted with taking God's children into His presence during worship as well as in everyday life. Chase the Lord with all your heart, use all your gifts unselfishly, and really enjoy His presence. The more you continue to make it about the Lord, the more the Lord will bless your worship. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Inheritance by Michael Phillips - REVIEWED

About the Book:
The death of the clan patriarch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whale's Reef into turmoil.

Everyone assumed MacGregor Tulloch's heir to be his grand-nephew David, a local favorite, but when it is discovered that MacGregor left no will, David's grasping cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island's land. And while Hardy doesn't enjoy much popular support, he has the backing of a shadowy group of North Sea oil investors. The courts have frozen the estate's assets while the competing claims are investigated, leaving many of the residents in financial limbo. The future of the island-and its traditional way of life-hangs in the balance.

Loni Ford is enjoying her rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, DC. Yet in spite of her outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her paternal grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .

Past and present collide in master storyteller Phillips's dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace, and of the dreams of men and women everywhere.

Purchase you copy HERE!

My Thoughts:
Help me, Lord – help me know what to do.” (p. 353)

Loni Ford’s whispered prayer is born in a rather desperate place.  She finds herself in a position to choose a completely different path that that of an executive  assistant in a large investment firm in D.C. Not only does she discover a rich heritage of loyalty and faith, but she finds herself in the Shetland Islands in a “cottage” left to her as an inheritance. She has no idea that her inheritance sits amid much turmoil!

Michael Phillips is an author who I’ve been reading for decades!  He was my introduction to Christian fiction when it was a fledging genre.  Through the years, I’ve come to know that any time his name is on the cover, I am about to enjoy an epic tale filled with characters who become residence of my heart and mind in a way that makes it hard to put the story down! 

The Inheritance is no exception! In fact, this reminded me why I began reading Christion Fiction all those years ago.  The characters struggle with the timeless things all believers face, and their story is enriched with a deep and fascinating history that is flawlessly woven among the chapters so the reader becomes fully engaged in every aspect of the novel!

This novel begins a tale that leaves many things unresolved, and that makes me happy with anticipation that I will be able to enjoy more time with this fantastic group of characters!  I can’t wait to see what develops as Loni steps into her heritage!  (she has to, right?!) 

I HIGHLY recommend this novel!! 

About the Author:
Michael Phillips is a bestselling author with more than 70 of his own titles. In addition, he has served as editor/redactor of nearly 30 more books. He is known as the man responsible for the reawakened interest in George MacDonald of the last 30 years. In addition to the MacDonald titles adapted/edited for today's reader, his publishing efforts in bringing back full-length quality facsimile editions also spawned renewed interest in MacDonald's original work. Michael and his wife, Judy, spend time each year in Scotland but make their home near Sacramento, California.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Music taught Lucy love and beauty. Could silence teach her hope?

Lucy and Charlie Tuttle agree on one thing: they're committed to each other for life. Trouble is, neither of them expected life to look like this. Charlie retired early, but Lucy is devoted to a long-term career . . . until the day she has no choice.

Forced to retire from her position as music educator in a small Midwestern K-8 school, Lucy can only watch helplessly as the program her father started years ago disintegrates before her eyes. As the music fades and a chasm separates her form the passion of her heart, Lucy wonders if her faith's song has gone silent, too. The musical score of her life seems to be missing all the notes.

When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees---and hears---everything.

Buy your copy HERE!

My Thoughts:
Sometimes the petals fall.  Sometimes the roots get damages.  Sometimes you have to replace the container.  Sometimes you make compost and start over.”  (p. 277)

Lucy and Charlie Tuttle had to make compost and start over in Cynthia Ruchti’s latest novel song of silence.  They had to start over in so many ways, I know that didn’t even recognize their own front door when all things were said and done.  They weren’t always pliable to The Master’s Touch through the process, and there were times when things just seemed too hard to go on…but…doesn’t that happen to all of us in some way or another?

I don’t know about you, but most folks I know who have had the privilege of doing something they loved as a career, only to have things go horribly sideways when retirement was in view, these are folks who have to be granted an extra measure of strength and grace.  Lucy and Charlie are no exception.  But in their lives many things go sideways…one right after another until even the reader’s heart feels a bit wrung out.

Then….that beautiful combination of grace and mercy shows up in very unexpected ways, and God’s handiwork becomes so vividly clear, that the heart that was wrung out with heartache becomes full of gratitude at the truth of God’s promises!  ALL THINGS.  Even when is looks as though there is not an ounce of joy left in the wide, wide world.

Get ready to shed a few tears with Lucy and Charlie.  And then be ready to have yourself grow slack-jawed by the beauty of God’s grace!  This is a HOMERUN of a novel!  Truly, a thing of beauty!!

About the Author:
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope. She's the award-winning author of 17 books and a frequent speaker for women's ministry events. She serves as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, where she helps retailers, libraries, and book clubs connect with the authors and books they love. She lives with her husband in Central Wisconsin.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Cleansing by Daryl Boyer - REVIEWED

Daryl Boyer – remember that name!  I believe God is going to use his musical talent to touch many lives!  His new project, The Cleansing, is a CD filled with songs that are filled with praise, adoration and a heart’s cry to be fully submitted to becoming all that God has made us to be as His children.

Daryl’s songs range from electrically charged praise, to quiet, instrumental and contemplative songs of intimate worship. I think one of the lines of the title song, The Cleansing, captures the heart of the project with the words; Lay me sow on the altar, of your refining fire, to be the one you’ve called me to be.”

On his website, Daryl takes this message to an even deeper level when he states: Worship goes far deeper that the sons we sing.  Our worship should also be represented by what we do with Christ in  and through our daily lives. Without a clear understanding of Christ’s love, and the full scope of what He accomplished for us at the cross, we will never have a clear understanding of our identity in Christ.

I encourage everyone to get acquainted with Daryl Boyer and his new release The Cleansing!

Stay tuned!  I will be posting and interview with Daryl in the days ahead!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pocket Prayers by Max Lucado - REVIEWED

About these books:
Pocket Prayers (with various authors; Thomas Nelson, March 2016)

Bestselling author Max Lucado has teamed up with six authors to write the Pocket Prayers series for those in need of peace, renewal, rest, faith, hope, joy, direction, serenity, and courage.

Short, simple prayers are very effective, which is why each book in the series contains forty guided prayers and complementary scriptures for any situation, including for:

-Moms (written with daughter Andrea Lucado)
-Grads (written with daughter Andrea Lucado)
-Dads (written with Mark Mynheir)
-Military Life (written with Mark Mynheir)
-Teachers (written with blogger Jennifer Hale)
-Friends (written with Betsy St. Amant)

You can purchase copies here!

My Thoughts:
Prayer is no a privilege for the pious, not the art of a chosen few.  Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child.”  (p. 15)

Max Lucado is very honest in his definition of prayer.  He identifies the most common misconceptions about prayer in his brief introduction, and then offers  simple, heartfelt prayers on a number of topics in an effort to teach and encourage believers of all ages and stages of faith to learn to have daily conversations with God no matter what situation lies before  them.

When you consider how often Jesus prayed, how he carved out intentional time to pray, and the fact that He was part of the Godhead….it gives us all pause to consider the value of spending out time in the same way, right?  So why is it so hard? Lucado wants to take the fear and intimidation away from this powerful and promise-filled activity and invite everyone to join him in this most important conversation.

Each book, regardless of the intended audience, contains Forty prayers divided into a variety of topics.  From Guidance and Clarity to Grace and Strength – from Work and Career to Relationships, Lucado offers brief, heart-felt prayers to guide believers into the presence of God.  I hope no one will see this as a religious guide-book, but rather a teaching tool to instruct those who have believed a lie about the role prayer holds in the life of all of God’s children.

Come, from a variety life-roles, and join the conversation.  Your Heavenly Father is waiting to talk with you. 

About the Author:
More than 120 million readers have found inspiration and encouragement in the writings of Max Lucado. He lives with his wife, Denalyn, and their mischievous mutt, Andy, in San Antonio, Texas, where he serves the people of Oak Hills Church.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Suddenly Single Mom by Jeanette Hanscome - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Raising your family on your own can be heartbreaking, lonely and hard to navigate. Suddenly, you are the one who has to have the answers. Remembering that God is always with you and that His love is faithful can give you the confidence to face whatever this new life brings. With a foundation of helpful Scripture verses, each message shares a story, a survival tip and a prayer. Readers will find a faithful companion in this book as they encounter each new experience and learn to embrace their new role. Jeanette Hanscome shares 52 encouraging insights gleaned from her first year as a single mom to two boys. She shares very real struggles and triumphs, from learning to stand on her own to knowing when to ask for or accept help, and deals with both the emotional and the practical challenges of raising her children on her own.

My Thoughts:
Thank you for being bigger than statistics, my fears or even today’s struggles.” (p. 120)

Jeanette Hanscome prays as transparently and as honestly as she writes each chapter of her book, Suddendly Single Mom. She allows her readers to journey with her as she navigates becoming a single mom after being married for more than two decades.  Learning to accept help, fighting spiritually for both yourself and your children when you’d rather be curled up despondent in the bed for days on end.  Jeanette captures the raw, honest places of this journey, but as she does, she invites Jesus along step by painful step.

Remaining open to everything God had prepared for her and her two children allowed Jeanette to be victorious when most would have given in to the despair and depression that follow this all-to-common scenario.  She learns to trust God to navigate and provide for both she and her children, and, with every detail of their lives lovingly cared for – through God’s willing disciples – Jeanette encourages readers to be encouraged and remain strong through their own journey through divorce.

Each chapter is brief but laser focused on a crucial detail of the journey.  Jeanette ends each chapter with prayer, scripture and a potential journal topic. She focusses on God’s provision and healing, but is honest about the pain, confusion and deep sense of loss experienced in the wake of divorce.

Like Jeanette, my marriage ended after 22 and a half years.  I believe God placed this book in my hands and in my heart for a purpose.  This takes me a step further in my own healing journey, and point me again toward the only provision I will ever need to get me to my own next step in life – Jesus.

I cannot begin to recommend this highly enough!! Bless you Jeanette!!  Bless you!!

About the Author:
Jeanette Hanscome is a busy author and mom who constantly looks for opportunities to weave her experiences into stories. . When she isn't writing, Jeanette enjoys encouraging writers, teaching and speaking, knitting and crocheting, and spending time with the people she loves.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bride of a Distant Isle by Sadra Byrd - REVIEWED

About the Book:
An unforgettable romance set in Victorian England, Bride of A Distant Isle is the engrossing story of Annabel Ashton, who fights to save her family home and her mother's honor while trying to figure out if the man she loves wants her—or just wants to use her to achieve his own ambitions.

Miss Annabel Ashton is a teacher at the Rogers School for Young Ladies in Winchester when she takes a brief visit to her family home, Highcliffe Hall at Milford-on-Sea. She believes her stay will be short but soon learns that she will not be returning to the safety of the school. Instead, she remains at Highcliffe, at the mercy of her cousin, Edward Everedge.

Annabel protests, but as the illegitimate daughter of a woman who died in an insane asylum, she has little say. Edward is running out of money and puts the house up for sale to avoid financial ruin. He insists that Annabel marry, promising her to a sinister, frightening man. But as the house gets packed for sale, it begins to reveal disquieting secrets. Jewelry, artifacts, and portraits mysteriously appear, suggesting that Annabel may be the true heir of Highcliffe.

She has only a few months to prove her legitimacy, perhaps with assistance from the handsome but troubled Maltese Captain Dell’Acqua. But does he have Annabel’s best interests at heart?

And then, a final, most ominous barrier to both her inheritance and her existence appears: a situation neither she nor anyone else could have expected. Will Annabel regain her life and property—and trust her heart—before it’s too late? 

My Thoughts:
You are not mute in the dark, Father, though I may not always be able to see Your hand or recognize Your servants, or who they are, at work.  You’ve never left me.  You’ve never forsaken nor forgotten me.” (p. 347)

At the point Annabelle has this revelation, she is walking completely by faith!  She has gone through some rather hellish things, and her life is still filled with uncertainty.  However, she has discovered the only sure foundation, and chooses to stand on that truth regardless of her circumstance.

This is also the point in the novel when many secrets have come to light, and Annabelle finds herself at a crossroads.  All choices have consequence, and she must choose what direction her future will take. Although this novel is set in the mid 1850’s, the truth of the condition of the human heart without Christ is the same as it is in the 21st century.  Greed, covetousness, pride, addiction…it’s all there.  I found the scariest fact in the story to be how many people were committed to insane asylums with no hope of healing or relief.  Abandoned to die, basically.  That is scary!

Annabelle was facing this very thing, all because of a wicked, insidious heart that longed to have things that never belonged to their world.  This is a beautiful, dangerous story that has, at its heart, a redemptive message.  True, not all stories ended well in this novel, but the endings faced were realistic and true. 

This is a novel that will make you think deeply about your own faith, but will also make you grateful that insane asylums are no longer the go-to solution to every imaginable situation!  An excellent story indeed!!  I highly recommend this novel!

About the Author:
Sandra Byrd has published four dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including her two historical series with Howard Books. For nearly two decades, Sandra has shared her secrets with the many writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington area.